Taal still blowing off steam; safety warnings stay | Inquirer News

FUMING Although not immediately evident, Taal Volcano is still restive. –GRIG C.MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines — After pausing for 16 days, Taal Volcano resumed degassing and emitted steam plumes on Wednesday morning, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

Volcanologists said hot volcanic fluid in the main crater lake continued to rise, generating plumes that rose 3,000 meters and drifted northward.

Despite the renewed volcanic activity, Taal remained on alert level 2, indicating decreased unrest.

Its status was downgraded by a step on July 23, more than three weeks after an increase in its activities.

Even with the lowered status, Phivolcs warned that sudden steam- or gas-driven explosions, volcanic quakes, minor ashfall and lethal accumulations or expulsion of volcanic gas can take place and threaten areas around the Taal Volcanic Island.

107 volcanic quakes

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the Taal Volcano Network recorded 107 volcanic quakes. Sulfur dioxide emission, meanwhile, averaged 3,849 tons per day on Aug. 9.

Phivolcs still strongly recommends barring entry into the Taal Volcano Island and Taal’s permanent danger zone, especially the vicinities of the main crater and the Daang Kastila fissure.

Occupancy and boating on Taal Lake is also not advised.

Taal, the country’s second most active volcano, remained restive since its eruption in January last year.

The eruption occurred on the afternoon of Jan. 12, 2020, when the volcano spewed volcanic ash that reached Calabarzon, Metro Manila, some parts of Central Luzon, and even Pangasinan in the Ilocos Region.

The volcano produced volcanic lightning above its crater with ash clouds.

The eruption progressed into magmatic eruption, characterized by a lava fountain with thunder and lightning.

Two weeks later, Phivolcs observed decreasing volcanic activity and lowered the alert to level 3.

Last month, its sulfur dioxide emission averaged 22,628 tons per day, the highest ever recorded in Taal.

Phreatomagmatic eruptions, which occur when new magma interacts with water, also forced residents in high-risk villages in Batangas province to evacuate for their safety. At least 107 volcanic earthquakes caused by movement or eruptions of magma from the volcano were recorded for the past 24 hours.

The figure includes 100 volcanic tremors that lasted from two to 30 minutes, six low-frequency volcanic quakes and one hybrid event.

A hybrid earthquake indicates rock fracturing and magma or fluid movement.

Preemptive evacuation

In February 2021, residents of Taal Volcano Island were preemptively evacuated due to the volcano’s increasing activity and Phivolcs raised the alert from level 1 to 2 on March 9.In June, volcanic smog appeared over nearby provinces and Metro Manila before the volcano erupted around 3:16 p.m of July 1. The alert was raised from level 2 to 3. Five eruptions were recorded on July 7.

On July 23, Phivolcs lowered the alert level from level 3 to level 2.

Phivolcs reiterates that entry into the Taal Volcano Island must be strictly prohibited, especially in the vicinity of the main crater and the Daang Kastila fissure.

Local governments are also advised to assess and strengthen the preparedness of previously evacuated barangays around Taal Lake in case of renewed unrest.

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